HomeAwardsLiving Legend: Cathy O’Connor

Living Legend: Cathy O’Connor

Cathy O’Connor

The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City former president and CEO

Cathy O’Connor has had her hand on just about every major development in Oklahoma City’s renaissance.

She left an almost-three-decade long tenure working for the City of Oklahoma City to start The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City in 2011. The separate nonprofit contracted with the city and public agencies to work on economic development and redevelopment work around the city.

“It’s always great to have an organization or entity that has a focus on trying to create jobs, create a better quality of life and work to redevelop distressed areas,” she said. “And that’s what I really think is a gift that The Alliance gives to the city: It’s the group that wakes up and goes to work and that’s what they want to do. They can focus and work very hard to make Oklahoma City a better place.”

And focus she has. She’s worked on revitalizing downtown OKC, helping bring the Omni hotel to the area and redevelop areas of town otherwise blighted.

“I really think a lot about the transformation in downtown Oklahoma City,” she said. “It was a place no one really wanted to go in the late 90s, and so much of what has been built was built in the last 15 years. And The Alliance was very much a part of that. We’ve been involved in the land for Scissortail Park, and land for the convention center. And all of that development came together. It’s been good urban-planning-type principles pushed forward through tax incentives.”

After leading The Alliance since its inception 11 years ago, she’s now opened her own consulting firm working with cities and developers across the nation. She said The Alliance can serve as a model for what can be done when city government, public agencies and nonprofits work together for public good.

“Pulling the rope in the same direction, we can get the impossible done,” she said.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter for our weekly newsletter and get the latest 405 news & events happening straight to your inbox!

Featured Stories

2022 Purpose & Impact Awards

We’re bouncing back: In 2021, individual giving was up 4.9 percent from 2020 to $337 billion; foundation giving shot up 3.4 percent to north...

2022 Innovator Awards

New ideas, new products and new ways to approach problems are what alter, advance and propel companies forward. In fact, 50 percent of the...

“In Awe” of the Journey

Stephen and Staci Nelson spent more than a decade trying to have children. Now a decade removed from those struggles, they have six children...